Raith in pursuit of players as squad returns for pre-season training

Could striker Rory Loy, pictured in action for Falkirk last season, be on his way to Stark's Park? Pic: Michael Gillen
Could striker Rory Loy, pictured in action for Falkirk last season, be on his way to Stark's Park? Pic: Michael Gillen

Raith Rovers are closing in on further new signings as manager Barry Smith looks to tool up for another League One title tilt.

Following last week’s arrival of goalkeeper Robbie Thomson and forward Chris Duggan, two more targets are edging closer to agreeing deals with the Kirkcaldy club.

Smith confirmed that he is in advanced talks with current Falkirk striker Rory Loy, who has been told to find a new club, while he is also hopeful of agreeing terms with ex-Hamilton midfielder Grant Gillespie.

The prospect of signing two players, aged 30 and 26 respectively, who have made a considerable number of appearances in the Scottish Premiership in recent years, would be sure to excite Rovers fans.

The deals were not finalised as we went to print but talks are believed to have reached an advanced stage.

The Press understands Smith has also held talks with Joe Cardle over a possible return to the club he won the Ramsden Cup with in 2014, but the 31-year-old winger, a free agent following his release from Dunfermline Athletic, is believed to have better offers elsewhere.

One player the club has missed out on, however, is former Scotland Under 21 midfielder Charlie Telfer.

The 22-year-old, whose previous clubs include Rangers and Dundee United, was looking to return home after a spell in Dutch football with Almere City last season.

A move to Stark’s Park was close to being completed, and terms were verbally agreed, but the player had a change of heart after an approach from former Raith boss Ray McKinnon, who was recently appointed new manager at Morton.

The offer of Championship football – plus the chance to link up with his previous manager at United – helped sway his decision and Telfer’s move to Cappielow was confirmed this week, leaving Smith to pursue other options.

The Raith boss is looking to bolster his midfield following the decision of veteran Scott Robertson to retire from playing in order to take up a full-time coaching position with Dundee United U18s, where he will work alongside Craig Easton, who also left his youth development role at Stark’s Park for the position of reserve team coach at Tannadice.

“We knew Scott’s situation so we’ve already been speaking to players with a view to filling that void,” Smith said.

“We now need to get in the right person who can do a similar job that Scott did for us.

“We are sorry to see him go but, financially, he was going to be better off retiring and taking the coaching job at Dundee United, so he had to make a decision for his family, and we understand that.”

One of the players Smith approached with a view to replacing Robertson was experienced former Celtic, Aberdeen and Middlesbrough midfielder Willo Flood, but the 33-year-old, released by Dundee United last month, is another who has better financial offers elsewhere.

Smith, who is operating under tight budget constraints for next season, added: “My main goal is to get the best players in that we can for the money we can offer – and sometimes you have to wait.”

Meanwhile, the Rovers squad returned to pre-season training today (Thursday) and Smith revealed he will be running the rule over “three or four trialists”.

He was looking forward to getting back into the swing of things after a short summer break.

“We’ll be putting the players through their paces although I’m sure they’ll have been looking after themselves while they’ve been away,” he said.

“I’m just looking forward to getting back involved with the boys and preparing for the new season.”